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Friday, 31 August 2018 04:23

Swift Current sea cadet competes at National Regatta

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A sea cadet from Swift Current had the unique experience of competing at the 2018 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet National Regatta in Kingston, Ontario, from Aug. 19-24.

Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Theo Lautsch of the #259 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Drylander in Swift Current was one of 50 sea cadets from across Canada who participated in the National Regatta, which is the culmination of the summer training season and an opportunity for the top sailors from the different regions to test their skills against others at this national competition.
“The experience has been great,” he told the Prairie Post on the final day of the event. “I’ve had a lot of fun while I’ve been here.”
He was one of two sailors from Saskatchewan who qualified for the National Regatta during a provincial event at the Blackstrap Provincial Park near Dundurn. He represented the Northwest region at the National Regatta, which was composed of sea cadets from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They competed against teams from the Atlantic, Eastern, Central and Pacific regions.
The cadets raced in Club 420 sailboats that are 4.2 metres long with a beam of 1.63 metres and a mast height of 6.26 metres. Each fibreglass boat has a crew of two, with one at the helm of the boat and the other as crew member.
Lautsch was a crew member on his team's boat and he sailed with a cadet from Alberta, Faith Keichinger-Varga. The skipper steers the boat and controls the main sail at the back of the boat. The crew member is responsible for a variety of tasks, including the control of the smaller sail at the front of the boat and a large colourful parachute-type sail.
Another important task of the crew member is to keep the boat flat by sometimes leaning out of the vessel. According to Lautsch his biggest challenge during a race as a crew member is to keep the boat flat, especially during high winds.
“A flat boat is a fast boat, that’s what we learn,” he said.
He worked well together with his teammate during the week of competition. There were 12 races and 10 counted towards the final results. They finished 23rd out of 25 teams, but they had realistic expectations about where they would finish in the event.
“We’ve never sailed together before this week,” he said. “So our expectations were to be kind of in the middle of the fleet towards the back, which is where we’ve been ending up.”
For Lautsch one of the most enjoyable aspects of the event was the opportunity to meet other cadets from across the country. He also considered it a memorable experience because it was an opportunity to compete on a national level.
“For me it’s probably one of the biggest highlights I’ve had in my cadet career because I’ve never done anything nationally with cadets or even with school or anything,” he said.
His time as a cadet is drawing to an end, because he is 17 years old and will be going to Grade 12 in the fall. He has been a cadet for about eight years, starting initially as a Navy League cadet when he was younger and then progressing to become a member of the Sea Cadet Corps.
He feels there are many benefits to being a sea cadet. He learned news skills, including sailing, as well as different transferable skills.
“It has helped me with my confidence,” he said. “I’ve grown much more confident as a person.”
According to Capt. Nicole McKay, a public affairs officer with the Canadian Armed Forces Regional Cadet Support Unit (Central), one of the goals of the cadet program is to get participants interested in healthy living and physical activity.
“We want them to see physical activity as fun, as something that’s enjoyable, as something they can keep doing,” she said.
Another important part of the cadet program is a focus on developing transferable life skills such as teamwork, leadership and decision-making that they can use throughout life.
She used their sailing experience as an example of how they develop those skills, because it requires team work, communication, and the ability to make quick decisions as conditions change during a race.
“A boat can go in front of you, you can lose the wind just from somebody else blocking it,” she said. “So what are you going to do then to get yourself out of that tricky situation, how are you going to communicate that to your partner, how are you going to work together, and they have to figure it out for themselves. ... The cadets do have a lot of latitude to make those decisions, but what that means later in life is they’re happy to work in a team, they know how to get a message across without being confrontational, they know how to get people’s buy-in. They have those skills from sailing as well as their wider experience in the cadet program.”
The sea cadet program is celebrating its centennial in 2018. The program's origins can be traced back to the end of the First World War, when the Boy's Naval Brigade was established to train young men for the Canadian flag merchant marine.There are currently 8,000 sea cadets in 229 Sea Cadet Corps across Canada.
“It certainly has changed from it’s inception to where it is now in terms of the reason why it is operational,” she said. “Now it’s mostly for leadership, citizenship and physical fitness, just creating really great Canadian citizens. ... It is to give them those transferable skills and to make sure that they are ready for adulthood. So we’re really excited that it’s been 100 years. It’s been a successful 100 years and we’re looking forward to seeing where the cadet program is going to go in the future.”

Read 189 times Last modified on Thursday, 30 August 2018 09:25
Matthew Liebenberg